Four men who racked up £200,000 from a string of armed robberies have been jailed.
Today, Friday 13 April 2018, at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, the following men were sentenced after pleading guilty at earlier hearings:
Richard Smith (28/02/81) of Pegwell Drive, Salford
Patrick McDonagh (21/11/80) of Ridge Crescent, Whitefield
David Dargan (29/08/85) of no fixed address
John Groom (03/04/82) of Manchester Road, Worsley
Operation Dominator is the investigation into a series of highly organised and well-planned armed robberies across the Greater Manchester area in the space of a year.
The series of robberies came to the attention of officers due to the striking similarities in each incident; the offenders wore a SWAT team-like uniform, involved at least two different vehicles with false number plates and took identical steps to disguise the evidence they were leaving behind.
Smith and his associates targeted shops, banks and cash-in-transit drivers to steal as much cash as they were able to before raising any alarms.
When targeting cash-in-transit drivers, they would park up vans, identify their opportunity and scare the driver away before attacking the van, sometimes with a wham ram, to gain access to the cash.
Once back in the van they arrived in, they would drive to a location where they had parked a getaway car and switch vehicles before disposing of the false plates and driving away.
Armed with crowbars, sledge hammers or wham rams, the group followed their regimented routine between December 2016 and August 2017. On one occasion, they threw a metal grid through a glass door before ransacking a bank.
While they thought they were doing their best to cover their tracks, officers were able to map the group’s disciplined processes and on 29 August 2017 lay in wait behind what would be the final getaway car for the cash-laden defendants to appear.
Without fail, they arrived in a white van and began to move their swag into the getaway car.
Officers soon came around the corner and intercepted the team, at which point, the defendants ran away from them but straight towards the officers who lay in waiting and were detained.
Today, they have been sentenced for more than 30 years.
Detective Sergeant Rick Castley of GMP’s Serious and Organised Group, said: “They were clearly a sophisticated organised crime group who ended up stealing a huge amount of money, all at the risk of businesses and people’s safety.
“With the amount of money they were managing to get their hands on, I’m sure they were hoping to make quite a lavish life out of this without putting in a hard day’s work.
“Today we can rest easy they’ll be seeing out the next part of their lives in prison where no amount of fear or battering rams will help them escape.”
Susan Taylor, for the CPS, said: “These four men meticulously planned and executed a series of terrifying armed robberies over a six month period in broad daylight.
“They were not deterred by the presence of members of the public, who they were not afraid to use violence against, or the fact that their offences were being captured on camera.
“The CPS worked closely with the police to build a compelling case against each offender including CCTV and telephony evidence, which proved each man’s involvement in the planning and commission of the robberies and left them with no other option than to plead guilty to all offences.”